Tricolon crescens

An Introduction to Tricolon crescens

Tricolon crescens is the accumulation of three parallel phrasesOpens in new window or clausesOpens in new window, each of which is at least one syllable longer than the previous one preceding it.

Here below, in the first example, the first two phrases are equal in syllabic length but the third has more. Likewise, in the second example, the syllabic lenghth grows progressively.

    This sentence contains 10 syllables (if not mistaken):
  • The truest, [3 syllables] the richest, and most unspeakable glories of the land
  • The Elk, (5:158).

  • “What shoulders, what arms I saw and touched! How suitable for squeezing were the shape of her breasts!”.

Tricolon crescens is often found in combination with AnaphoraOpens in new window and AsyndetonOpens in new window.

Corbett, Edward P.J. Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student. Oxford University Press, New York, 1971.
Smyth, Herbert Weir (1920). Greek Grammar. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press. p. 680.